Latin America & Caribbean

Colombia condemns Venezuela expulsions after border closure

Colombians return to their home country after being deported by Venezuela Image copyright AFP
Image caption Deportations have been stepped up after Venezuela closed its border with Colombia

Colombia has condemned deportations of its citizens after Venezuela closed its border with its western neighbour last week.

The crossings were shut after an attack by smugglers left three soldiers and a civilian injured.

Since then around 1,000 Colombians living in Venezuela have been expelled as part of a crackdown on smugglers and criminal gangs in the region.

The two countries are due to hold talks on the issue on Wednesday.

After travelling to the north-eastern city of Cucuta to review the situation, Colombia's Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo said Venezuela had created a "humanitarian tragedy", the AFP agency reported.

Those deported had been living illegally in Venezuela, reports said.

The Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduro, initially said the frontier would be closed for 72 hours but this has since been extended indefinitely.

He also declared a state of emergency in five border municipalities, sending in 1,500 extra troops.

The long, porous border between the two countries is used by smugglers to purchase heavily-subsidised goods in Venezuela and resell them in Colombia.

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